Friday, 29 May 2015

Music - Part 432 - Pulco

Pulco – Rodeo EP


Out Now

8 / 10

Welsh singer and musician releases his new EP. 

If you’re unfamiliar with Pulco then is really is time to get acquainted.  The solo project of one Ash Cooke for the last ten years is one of lo-fi, D.I.Y., poetry, songs and general noise.

As guitarist with Cardiff band Derrero he toured with the likes of Gorkys Zygotic Mynci, Catatonia and Super Furry Animals and was celebrated in John Peels Festive 50 of 1998.

With an almost punk-like attitude of recording when he has something to say, Cooke has developed a huge respect amongst fellow musicians including Johnno Casson and Nat Lyon who have often collaborated with or covered his work.

The new EP, was apparently unintentional with Cooke messing around with a slightly fuzzed out sound, four songs came to life and the Rodeo EP was born.  Opener, the brilliantly titled Last Welsh Girl AT The Rodeo is a pseudo Country Skiffle affair and features storyteller lyrics against a simple but effective backing.

Slow Trem, is unsurprisingly built around Cooke’s Telecaster guitar and with a simple bassline.  Vocals make way for a spoken word sound byte discussing the choice of language for Canada.  Slightly bizarre, but such is the world of Pulco.  The plodding bass underpins an easy listen and cute track.

Bakesale is a tribute to the Sebadoh album of the same name released in 1994 where Cooke recounts Derrero supporting the band on their UK tour and sharing after-show pleasantries.  It features spoken word in a treated voice and the ‘chorus’ is catchy to say the least, declaring that he loves Sebadoh with another Country Punk backing.

Closing the EP is Digits, a madcap affair which could also be the bastard child of Devo and Johnny & The Hurricanes.  A frenetic drum pattern with nonsense sounds, harmonies and semi-shouted vocals makes for a slightly mad end.

Pulco deserves more recognition.  Fact.  His no-nonsense, do-it-my-way approach is nothing short of admirable, and if you haven’t previously enjoyed his vast work (now amassed to ten albums) then, like this writer, it’s time you sat up and paid attention.

Pulco website
Pulco on Twitter
Johnno Casson on hiapop Blog
Nat Lyon on hiapop Blog

Published on Louder Than War 24/05/15 - here

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Music - Part 431 - Black

Black – Blind Faith (Nero Schwarz)


1 June 2015

Liverpool born Colin Vearncombe returns with a new Black album.  

Whilst it may have its doubters, there can be little criticism about the success of crowdfunding websites.  The new Black album via Pledge Music saw Colin Vearncombe raise 240% of the original target, testament also to the army that still follows him nearly thirty years after his commercially popular heyday.

At the time, 1987s Wonderful Life album was one of the finest collections around.  It displayed a male voice that was soft, sweet and often beautiful and with hits like the classic title track and the sumptuous Sweetest Smile showed that Vearncombe was able to write a tune or two.

By his own admittance, Wonderful Life will keep him in M&S suits for the rest of his life, such is the power and reward for writing such a tune.  His following album, the brilliantly titled Comedy (Black Comedy, geddit?) also spawned superb singles with the likes of The Big One and You’re A Big Girl Now, but unfortunately the fickle record buying public decided otherwise.

Many will see Blind Faith as the return of Black, but if truth be told the act had never really been away.  In 2009 two albums were released, one under the non de plume and one under his real name. So what of the new album?  Much will be made of it, and to be honest quite rightly so.  Thirteen new tracks (the first new material in six years) confirm that Colin is still well capable of writing stunning music – many in partnership with Calum MacColl (brother of Kirsty) – and his voice is competent enough to continue to melt those pats in the butter dish.

Lead single Ashes Of Angels is maybe more upbeat than the class of 87 will remember, but the construction of the track is typically Vearncombe.  Simple but effective with a rousing chorus it epitomises his style and can become yet another milestone in his colourful (sic) career.

Album opener The Love Show will be cited as classic Black, sweeping strings, stirring chorus and ‘that’ voice combining to remind the class of 87 what they’ve missed.  Second track, Don’t Call My Honey sees Vearncombe move upbeat with a strain of Country and Skiffle that he makes his own and as with much of the album the lyrics contain more than a sense of irony and part hidden wit.

With the longest track on the album, Womanly Panther coming in at less than three and a half minutes the style is moved to a rhumba beat with incredible strings recorded at Edinburgh Napier University.  The exquisite Stone Soup is stunning.

Closing with the atmospheric and haunting Parade, Blind Faith is a fine collection from one of Britain’s best but most undervalued singer songwriters.  It would be nice to say that it is a return to form, but Vearncombe never really lost it.  If there’s any justice in this World, Blind Faith will enable him to purchase a pair of shoes every time he buys a new M&S ensemble.


Published on Louder Than War 24/05/15 - here

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Music - Part 430 - Dommengang

Dommengang – Everybody’s Boogie (Thrill Jockey Records)

LP / CD / DL

Out Now


Proto-punk, electric blues band release their debut album.  

It’s probably fair to say that the recent passing of BB King will make us all realise without question, the legacy of his music and influence.  Perhaps not immediate on the debut Dommengang album, but it is almost certainly there beneath the surface of what is a solid and consistent first outing.

The Brooklyn based trio also seem to have certain amounts of influence from the likes of The Stooges, The Velvet Underground and even The Yardbirds mashed into a psychedelic space-rock concoction. 

The sound of Dommengang exemplifies huge driving sounds, rarely using words over the ten power led tracks which though having their roots in blues combine with fuzzed out guitars and a certain amount of experimenting to add excitement to the proceedings.

Recorded and mixed in just four days it demonstrates the bands will to succeed and just get things done will little or no fuss.  The opening title track is a wonderful piece of fuzzed out sliding guitars and rolling drum beat which amply sets the scene for the remainder of the album.

Second track, Hats Off To Magic is probably the best grunge blues you’ll hear with some terrific guitar work which surely resulted in blistered fingers and maybe is the biggest indication of the true roots of Dommengang. 

The distorted blues stomp of Slow Hat is disappointing in that it is only thirty seconds long.  It has the potential to be one of the album highlights but instead builds up expectation before shattering dreams all too quickly.

There’s a slightly pre-programmed loop feel to Extra Slim Boogie which is no criticism.  The steady repetitive bass line against a steady drumbeat compliments the light occasional vocal, but again like Wild In The Street Blues too, the track ends all too soon.

Burning Off The Years and CC are pure rock ‘n’ roll, nothing more nothing less, but album closer Lost My Way is something quite special as its almost improvised blues feel steadies the ship and brings the album to a serene end.

Published on Louder Than War 23/05/15 - here

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Music - Part 429 - AM444

AM444 – Dark Show EP (Kaiguan)


Out Now

China based electronic duo release their new EP. 

The strange beast on the EP cover doesn’t stop there. This collection of five tracks is a strange beast indeed.  Strange but brilliantly enthralling.

AM444 are ChaCha, a Chinese singer and MC, and Jay Soul a Dutch producer.  Together they make haunting, sprawling, experimental electronica which is completely fascinating. 

The story goes that ChaCha joined reggae collective Uprooted Sunshine in Shanghai after her move from Beijing in the early part of this century.  She soon expanded her repertoire and moved into trip-hop and bass.  Her collaborations with several artists resulted in her being picked to represent China at Madrid’s Red Bull Academy in 2011.  At Shanghai underground electronic music club Shelter, she teamed up with Jay who had moved to China which he favoured over New York and Berlin.

The pair now blend reggae with ambient and electronic pop to make a sound that is completely unique.  The title track, Dark Show is a steaming pseudo sexual alternative pop affair and probably the most commercial on the EP.  Its slow moon-stomp is accompanied by electronic waves and a repetitive loop before the beautiful vocals of ChaCha enter.  The chorus is simple and cyclic but it sucks in the listener and just won’t let go.  It’s hypnotic and entirely fabulous.

Huo is minimalist too, but in an almost complex way.  Its sounds and effects weave and swirl around in a poignantly haunting way and the occasional bass churn works brilliantly.   There’s a more 80s krautpop feel to Lian which again follows a dark theme and gyrates like a circus trapeze artist in slo-mo.

Not What It Seems is again slightly more accessible and has the makings of a rather unorthodox club track with its more conventional drum pattern and melodies.  The EP ends with the Forrane Mix of the title track, another weird reprise and a mix which differs tremendously from the earlier version with an almost jazz feel. 

It’s all very clever and is a delight to the ears.


Kaiguan Records
AM444 website
AM444 on Twitter
AM444 on Facebook

Published on Louder Than War 23/05/15 - here

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News - Sunstack Jack Release New Single

Sunstack Jones is always two, sometimes three but mostly four or maybe five musicians from the North of England where it is practically the North Pole. 

Forming in early 2011, our debut LP 'Surefire Ways To Sweeten The Mind' was released in April 2012 and is suitable for any weather. 

Following some shows and a couple of 45 rpm single releases on Eighties Vinyl Records, their second LP 'Roam' was self released in July 2014 (available in all good indies).

Their new single (Good This Time) will be released on June 22nd and it's rather good.

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News - Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins and Jay-Jay Johanson cover Bat For Lashes

Step inside the Red Bull Studios Paris for an exclusive live session of the "Laura" Cover (Bat for lashes) by Cocteau Twins’ Robin Guthrie and Jay-Jay Johanson. Beautiful is an understatement. Jay-Jay Johanson returns in majesty with their new album "Opium" on June 17th.

Jay-Jay Johanson has had a close working relationship with Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins since 1997, having appeared on a number of records together. On ‘Scarecrow’ Guthrie returns to give us a taste of what the two have been working on lately, and a glint of what a future album might sound like together. ‘I Can Count On You’ continues along this path with mellow grooves with pop sensibilities.

As the album winds down, we’re taken down new roads, more otherworldly sounds are introduced, as if this opium induced dream has reached its climax and now we enter the darker corners of Johansons mind. ‘Alone Too Long’ spins its story against a dark, cinematic backdrop and ‘Harakiri’, the only instrumental on the album, leaves us with room for thought as ambient melodies drift atop a vintage drum machine.

‘Celebrate The Wonders’ closes this epic with the sound of water, rushing against rocks, washing us ashore to bring us softly back to land. This rich, textured ballad does well to exit us from the dreamscape, almost transcendental, journey that ‘Opium’ takes us on. It’s grounding, smooth and familiar.

With further touring plans, and future releases already being planned, Jay-Jay Johanson is set to cast his net wide over 2015, and ‘Opium’ is a perfect gateway drug into the rich and diverse world he has created.

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News - The Milltown Brothers Announce New Album

The Milltown Brothers are set to make their eagerly awaited return with the release of a new album on Stanley Records on the 31ST of July 2015.
‘Long Road’, their fourth studio record and the follow up to ‘Rubberband’, is a CD and a digital release. Recorded in Spain and the UK with producers Mark Jones and Mark Phythian (Coldplay), the new long player features eleven brand news tracks including the lead track ‘Hideaway’ and the eponymously titled album opener and first single ‘Long Road’.
Too many highlights to mention, the new album is without doubt their finest and most complete set of songs to date. From the opening bars of the infectious and aforementioned first single to the tender album closer ‘Alive’, the Milltown Brothers effortlessly combine contemporary English pop with the almost gentle melodies of Roger McGuinn and John Fogerty to great effect.
Formed in Lancashire and still featuring the original line up of siblings Matt Nelson  (Vocals / Guitar), andSimon Nelson  (Guitar) together with James Fraser (Bass), Barney Williams (Organ / piano) and Nian Brindle (Drums), the Milltown brothers released their critically acclaimed album ‘Slinky’ in 1991. Their debut included the hits ‘Which Way Should I Jump’, ‘Here I Stand‘ and ‘Apple Green’ and went on to sell in excess of 100K copies worldwide. The single release of ‘Which Way Should I Jump’ went on to make the top ten in the US Billboard Alternative Rock Chart, as well as being a huge hit in the UK, Europe and Japan.

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News - Love Nor Money Release Debut Single

Take three women – two of whom are sisters – comprising a soul singer, a professional dancer and an aficionado of the scuzzy six-string, and bond with a penchant for North London squat parties and a passion for vivid danceable pop. The result? Dynamic alt.rave three-piece LOVE NOR MONEY. 

As equally at home at warehouse parties as urban ballrooms, LNM’s scope is reflected in the breadth of artists they’ve been compared to, from Grace Jones to Destiny’s Child, Radiohead to Rudimental and Candi Staton to (yes, there are glimpses) The Spice Girls. Like Haim refurbished by The Prodigy, Sonic Youth gone reggaeton or Major Lazer in cahoots with The Slits, Love Nor Money exude a vibe that encompasses both old-skool garage and DIY guitar indie. 

Bess Cavendish (lead vocals), Jayna Cavendish (backing vocals, drums and dance) and Anna Tosh (guitar) have been cherry-picking their performances thus far to best project their aerobically intense and attention-grabbing live show, and have shone on diverse stages at The Notting Hill Carnival, The Port Eliot Festival, Oval Space and the Blade Runner-themed Secret Cinema event, drawing plaudits and punters at a phenomenal rate. With a flush of instantly catchy dancehall hooks now committed to tape, and soon to be released by Lost In The Manor, the band’s wider renown is inevitable.

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News - Deux Furieuses Release New Single

Deux Furieuses are set to release their third Rob Ellis (PJ Harvey) produced single 'Are We Sexy Enough?' on 8 June and haipop Blog likes it.

Chunky guitars and load drums aplenty are flavour of the day in this song is about the conflicting pressures on females in society and especially female musicians in the music business.

With a new album planned for release in the Autumn, things are looking good for the duo.

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News - Feral Five Release Neurotrash Video

Proud of declaring to the World that they are 'your new favourite band', hiapop Blog makes no secret of their love of Feral Five.

Seemingly an age since their debut release Skin, they are now back with a 'turbocharged leftfield beats single meeting electropunk brainfood in a neon explosion'. It also recently featured in the sizzling drag queens film ‘Dressed As A Girl’.

The new song was inspired by science wars about the brain. Science guru Baroness Susan Greenfield dubbed pap gender psychology 'Neurotrash' and both she and the legendary Rosalind Franklin are namechecked in the song.

Some fab dub effects fighting to get out amongst the trademark post-punk sound mashed with high powered dance beats.

Suddenly the World seems a better place.

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Wednesday, 27 May 2015

News - The Mothmen Stream Re-Release Of Pay Attention!

  • Lost post-punk classic from 1980. A unique mixture of noisy riffs, angular pop melodies and dubwise production aesthetic.
  • Second ever album release on On-U Sound, never issued before on CD or Digital.
  • Can be filed alongside early work by Wire, Gang Of Four and Public Image Limited; and uncannily predates later work by contemporary bands such as Liars and Battles.
  • Remastered from the original tapes and fully annotated with sleevenotes by the band, plus photos and memorabilia.
  • All formats include 6 bonus tracks, 3 of which are previously unheard.

The Mothmen emerged from the ashes of two legendary Manchester groups – comedy/satire band Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias, and the first line-up of Factory Records band The Durutti Column. They also contributed to the beginnings of longrunning dub collective Suns Of Arqa.

Band members Chris Joyce and Tony Bowers went onto become the rhythm section in the classic 80s line-up of Simply Red, whilst multi-instrumentalist Bob Harding ran lauded reggae reissue label Blood & Fire. Tragically, guitarist Dave Rowbotham was murdered in 1991, but was immortalised in the Happy Mondays song “Cowboy Dave”.

A missing part of the early On-U Sound Records story restored to life and a great example of early-80s UK DIY post-punk music. At times exhibiting psych-tinged tunefulness on tracks such as “Not Moving” and “Change Direction” (or their unreleased cover of Syd Barrett’s “Vegetable Man”). Other tracks are heavier, such as the trance-inducing repetitive rhythms of “Mothman” which recalls 70s German groups such as Can or Amon Düül II.

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Music - Part 428 - ION

ION – Μayph Σyxnothta


Out Now

Greek underground electronic songwriter/producer releases his new album. 

ION is the solo project of Greek musician and sound artist, Giannis Papaioannou the lead member of post-punk electronic band Mechanimal.  When leaving behind the heavy industrial pop of the group, Giannis moves away to an unpredictable ambient/drone sound.

On new album Μayph Σyxnothta (roughly translated as Black Frequency or Silent Noise) ION create lush sounds and movements lovingly constructed via layered samplers and synthesizers to create often hypnotic pieces of clinical sounding movie-scapes.

With second track Fjord for instance, the simple beginnings build and build to make a fabulous drive-easy concoction of pulsing resonances and gentle bass tones.  Giannis is often careful not to lose the album in a sea of nothingness, the easy option to have everything as the often misunderstood form of drone is dismissed and instead he opts for semi-ambience and synth wisps.

She Was A Normal Girl for instance contains echoing effects but also has a simple hook casting an affectionate glance in the direction of Jon Vangelis as it does anything but complicate a simple and effective idea, instead building on a theme that induces calm and respite.

It seems throughout the whole of the thirteen tracks on show that a break from the heavy thunder of Mechanimal is a welcome retreat for Papaioannou and We Waves is effortlessness personified.  It breezes through an easy drum shuffle with tendrils of unpretentious hooks and maintains a scene of tranquility throughout.

Ektachrome does much the same though it is slightly more involved with guitar effects added to bring the track forward to a more solid and harsher presentation whilst still maintaining the unruffled, almost scientific edge.

Once more, Campfire raises the dense base to maximum effect without taking proceedings too far and spoiling the mood already created.  Album closer Unreal at almost ten minutes is probably the track most akin to drone on the album.  It broods and agonises with sweeping keyboards twisting in and out of an already sparse background, and perhaps alludes to the darker haunting sounds that are captured by the Mechanimal project thereby creating a logical link to ION.

Μayph Σyxnothta is pleasing to say the least.  It marks another step in the impressive portfolio of Giannis Papaioannou and can do nothing else but to enhance the presence of his work outside of his homeland.


ION website
ION on Twitter
ION on Facebook
Mechanimal album review

Published on Louder Than War 20/05/15 - here

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